Which is more critical, your skill set or your mindset? Which will help you succeed, your skills and abilities, or your mindset and the way you think? You will need both, but no matter how good your skill set may be, you will come up short of your true potential without the proper mindset.

One fundamental  truth is that you develop your skill set, but you choose your mindset. Skill set is about capabilities. Mindset is about belief systems. You can have a robust skill set and a poor mindset and find yourself struggling to succeed. However, if you have a strong mindset, you can continually develop your skill set. Unfortunately, for many of us, we spend hours trying to build our skill set without spending a minute working on our mindset.

What is a Mindset?

Your mindset is about what you believe to be true about you and about the environment where you serve. It has everything to do with your attitudes and the assumptions you make about the world around you. I highly recommend reading Dr. Carolyn Dweck’s classic called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” Dr. Dweck suggests two mindsets, Fixed, where a person believes intelligence is fixed from birth and you are what you are, or Growth, where a person believes they can learn new things and grow their intelligence through focused effort. 

Your mindset shows up in the way you approach your work, the way you relate to other people, and by the way you see life in general. It is how you choose to think.

How to Improve Your Mindset

If you want to improve your chances for success, you will need to ensure your Mindset and Skillset are working for you and not against you. To improve your mindset, consider these exercises:

  1. Embrace Challenge – anytime you face a challenge or a difficult situation, lean in; that’s your opportunity to grow.
  2. Compared to You – Coach John Wooden defined success as “…knowing you made an effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Success is not comparing you to someone else; it’s comparing you to the you from yesterday.
  3. Know Your Why – If you have a clear purpose in your efforts, you will naturally lean toward growth. You will view every opportunity you face as an opportunity to move closer to the goal. As Nietzsche said: “He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how.” 

Be intentional about your mindset and your skillset. Choose the former, work on the latter.

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.